Madam Ambassador: UAE appoints first woman ambassador to France

UAE Ambassador to France present a copy of her credentials (Twitter)

UAE Ambassador to France present a copy of her credentials (Twitter)

By Habib Toumi
The United Arab Emirates has appointed a woman as its new ambassador to France, the first time the Gulf country has named a woman to such a post in Paris.

Hend Manea Saeed Al Otaiba has presented a copy of her credentials as UAE Ambassador to the French Republic.

“I had the honor today to deliver a copy of my credentials as UAE Ambassador to France, to Mr. Philippe Franc, Director of State Protocol and Diplomatic Events,” Hend posted on her Twitter account.


Hend during the oath-taking ceremony before SHaikh Mohammed bin Rashid

Hend during the oath-taking ceremony before Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoom (Twitter)

In July, Hend took the oath as her country’s ambassador before Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

“It is an honour and a privilege to be sworn in as the UAE’s next ambassador to the French Republic, in front of His Highness Shaikh Mohammed,” she tweeted.

“The UAE-France relationship is one of the strongest and most important we have, and I will work tirelessly to advance it during my time in Paris.”

Prior to her appointment, Hend was the director of strategic communications at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

According to UAE daily The National, Hend created and led the government body’s first strategic communications department, which promotes the country’s foreign policies and interests through the international media and the UAE’s diplomatic missions.

During her tenure at the ministry, she also advised Shaikh Abdullah bin Zayed, the UAE’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Co-operation, on international diplomacy until 2019.

A career public servant, she formerly worked as director of communications at Abu Dhabi Media, and also managed the public relations for cultural programmes at Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority. During her time there, she played a leading role in promoting the emirate’s cultural institutions, working in particular alongside French partners to bring the Louvre art gallery to the capital Abu Dhabi.

A fluent French speaker who attended a French school in the UAE for many years, Hend received her master’s degrees from the Paris Sorbonne Abu Dhabi and the UAE National Defence College. She is also a board member of the Anwar Gargash Diplomatic Academy and a fellow of the Middle East Public Relations Association.

Her father, Mana Al Otaiba, is a former UAE minister of petroleum and mineral resources, and her brother Yousef Al Otaiba is the current UAE ambassador to the US.

Hend joins a long list of Emirati women now leading UAE diplomatic missions in Europe and New York.

Among current senior female ambassadors are Hessa Al Otaiba (The Netherlands), Hafsa Al Olama (Germany), Fatema Al Mazrouei (Denmark), Noora Juma (Finland) and Nabila Al Shamsi (Montenegro).

Lana Nusseibeh is the UAE’s first female permanent representative to the United Nations.

The UAE has been making huge strides to empower women politically, diplomatically, economically and socially.

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